Shanghai stars held in soccer graft probe

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Three of Shanghai's former soccer stars, Shen Si, Qi Hong and Jiang Jin, have been taken in for questioning by police in the ongoing nationwide investigation into the country's soccer corruption.

Shen and Qi, who played in midfield for Shanghai International Football Club and are now coaches, were taken by the investigation team of Liaoning Province police in the middle of last week and have been out of contact since, according to their clubs.

Jiang, former goalkeeper for both the national team and Shanghai International, was taken in earlier.

Shen, 37, is now head coach at Shanghai Pudong Zhongbang while Qi, 34, is an assistant coach of the Chinese women's national team. Both had been reported "missing" from their positions.

Jiang, 42, is believed to be no longer involved in the game.

"I trust my son and I think he'll be fine," Shen's father told Xinmin Evening News. "There has been someone that was taken by the police and later turned out to be nothing."

Shen and Qi played in the last game of the 02/03 Chinese first division soccer league in a match between Shanghai International and Tianjin Taida in which International, second in the league and only one point behind derby rival Shanghai Shenhua, lost 1-2 to Taida, not only losing the title but allowing Taida to remain in the following year's super league.

There was speculation that the match could have something to do with Shen and Qi being taken by the police as Zhang Yifeng, former manager of Taida, had been detained earlier, according to yesterday.

The portal quoted Wei Di, director of the China Football Association, as saying that the three might just be cooperating with the investigation.

The last time Shen was seen in public was last Monday when he was training his team for a match against Nanjing Youyou. Shen did not appear in the coach's seat during the match on Saturday.

Shen and Qi helped Shanghai Shenhua win the first division league in 1995 and all the three players played for the national team.

Qi and Jiang played an important role in 2001 in helping China qualify for the South Korea-Japan World Cup. Qi was not a part of the eventual squad but Jiang was in goal in South Korea.

Shen and Qi were sold to International in 2002 for then record transfer fees of 9 and 9.5 million yuan (US$1.4 million), respectively.

It is the first time that former Shanghai players have been connected to the nationwide soccer fixing scandal.

The crackdown on soccer match fixing and corruption has been ongoing since the beginning of this year.

More than 24 officials, coaches, referees and players have been involved.


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